With the Creepshow Season 3 finale officially out on Shudder,1428 Elm had the opportunity to sit down and chat with horror icon Greg Nicotero. As the showrunner, Nicotero often steps into the directing chair as he did for one segment of the finale, specifically the “Drug Traffic,” episode, a standout in an already-great season.
We chatted with Nicotero about the finale, the third season as a whole, that George A. Romero homage in “A Dead Girl Named Sue,” and the future of Creepshow. Will there be a fourth season?
Creepshow Season 3 finale postmortem with Greg Nicotero
1428 ELM: I want to start by talking about the creature in the “Drug Traffic” segment of the finale, which might be one of the scariest episodes of the show. How did the idea for this particular being and the design come about?
GREG NICOTERO: Here’s something interesting, so Mattie Do and her husband Chris Larsen pitched the idea, and basically the idea was that this woman’s crossing the border from the United States and her drugs are confiscated and she transforms into this monster. I think in the original pitch, it was like a werewolf or something.
Mattie lives in Laos with her husband, and I said, “Look, I don’t want this to be a traditional monster. I really want to do something unique and different.” I’m a big fan of Asian horror and Southeast Asian horror, and I had said, “I’d love for you guys to embrace Mattie’s heritage and find something that’s unique and completely different than anything we’ve ever seen before. That’s what I would love for the episode.”
So they went away for like a week and a half, and then they came back and were like, “Oh my god, we got it!” There’s this creature—which is based on real Southeast Asian folklore, called the Krasue, and it’s this creature that separates from its body and floats around the jungles of Laos. It goes into peoples’ houses, and it’s kind of this urban legend like the Jersey Devil or the chupacabra or Bigfoot.
That’s how we came up with the idea. I immediately fell in love with it and thought, okay, this is something new, it’s something unique, it’s something I’ve, in the 30 however many years I’ve been in the industry, I’ve never built anything like this, so I was very excited about it. It came out of a conversation where I had encouraged Mattie to lean into her heritage, and that’s where we landed.
1428 ELM: The second half of the episode was in black and white. What was the thought process behind filming that segment in black and white, was it specifically for the Romero/Night of the Living Dead homage or was there more to it?
GREG: No, that was exactly it. We wanted it to feel period. We wanted it to feel retro. It was based on a short story written by Craig Engler that I had read in a compilation of short stories called Nights of the Living Dead, where the entire book was stories that took place on the same night as Night of the Living Dead.
I immediately fell in love with that idea, and that’s where the impetus of Creepshow began, was this story. So the idea of using some of the footage from the original movie and some of the radio broadcasts and things like that, I’m a big fan of those alternate universe-type stories. We really wanted it to be in black and white.
I was watching The Twilight Zone, and I saw an episode that was written by Heather Anne Campbell that I absolutely loved, so I hunted her down. I was really a big fan of an episode she had written for Season 2 called “Among the Untrodden,” so I wanted her to write this.
Initially, I wanted to direct the episode, but I was getting pulled in about 500 directions between showrunning on Creepshow Season 2 and post and Season 3 and Walking Dead, so I turned over the reigns to John Harrison, who I’ve known for 30 or 40 years, and he’s, of course, an old Romero collaborator and really was excited about bookending the show. Season 2 ended with “Night of the Living Late Show,” which also had a Romero flair to it. It’s just another opportunity for me to pay tribute to George in a fun way.
1428 ELM: When you guys are structuring the show, since it is an anthology, how do you decide the episode order and what’s going to be the premiere and what’s going to be the finale?
GREG: I like to pick episodes that have very different feeling, and different themes to them. Some of them can be lighthearted, some of them can be darker. We don’t shoot them in the same order we air them because of production issues, so I think “Drug Traffic” was probably shot early in Season 3, but I knew it was a compelling story.
I knew it had a good message to it, I knew it had a unique monster, and it was much more straight horror even though there is a lot of humor in Michael Rooker and Reid Scott’s performances, which I think are brilliant. I look at the pedigree of the story and pairing those stories together to see how they play.
1428 ELM: It was cool to see Michael Rooker and Reid Scott together in this since they are both pretty well-known for their work. How did they end up involved in this?
GREG: Obviously I’ve known Micahel quite a while from our work on Walking Dead together, so he was a no-brainer. Reid Scott had been on some of my casting lists because I was a big fan of Veep and really thought he was a talented actor. The fact I was able to get both of these guys. Michael was chomping at the bit to do something. He loves short-form anthology shows and wanted to do something on Season 1.
I was really excited about that opportunity, and then with Reid, we had never met, but he was somebody I had wanted to work with, so I feel like I kind of hit the jackpot. Then we had Sarah Jon, who played the monster and Mai, who played the mother, and it’s interesting, Mai, she stood toe-to-toe with Rooker in that room and did a great job.
I don’t want to not give her the props she deserves because she went from being this hysterical mother to the point where she sacrifices herself to save her daughter, and she did it without blinking. She was so good in every take. I want to give her a lot of credit for that because she did a great job.
And Sarah, who also did a great job, I don’t think she has one line of dialogue in the whole thing. When she auditioned, I said, look, it’ll probably be one of the easiest jobs you’ll ever have because you don’t have to learn any lines, but it’s going to be very taxing because there is going to be prosthetics involved and rigs involved, and you have to play this woman who is just getting sicker and sicker. I feel really fortunate because all the actors, they gave it their all.
I would say that for every actor on Creepshow. It’s a unique situation because they come in, and it’s a 3 1/2 day shoot, and I’ve had a lot of great [actors], you know Keith David, Ashley Laurence, a lot of my friends that came in, even Tobin Bell, Giancarlo from Season 1, and Adrienne Barbeau. They flew in, they work for a day or two days, and it’s like a marathon shoot. They came in really with the right attitude. They wanted to come in and have fun and do a great job on the show, I really feel like I hit the jackpot.
1428 ELM: Do you have any word on Creepshow Season 4 or the potential for it?
GREG: I’ve been kind of back-against-the-wall with post on Season 2 for Creepshow and then I directed two episodes of Walking Dead and then post on Season 3 for Creepshow. But I have spent the last several weeks reading stories and looking at material for Season 4. So we are compiling stories and we are in development on a Season 4. But right now, it’s all Walking Dead all the time for me. We’re careening toward the last eight episodes and I’m currently directing right now.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
All three seasons of Creepshow are now available to stream exclusively on Shudder.